The former Chairman of the Special Task Force on Petroleum Revenue, Nuhu Ribadu, on Saturday in Kano challenged the 19 northern governors to account for the N8.3 trillion that accrued to their states between 1999 and 2010.
Mr. Ribadu, who was speaking at a two-day summit of Northern Development Focus Initiative, NDFI, lamented that there were no significant achievements on ground to show for the huge resources at the state and local government levels for the period.
According to the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, despite the fact that each of the 414 local governments in the north currently has budget in excess of the N8.3 trillion of the entire Northern Region under the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, successive administrations in the region have failed to meet the expectations of the people.
He blamed corruption for the problem, noting that at least 90 per cent of the nation’s resources were being stolen by public officials.
“When Major Nzeogwu made his speech to justify the takeover of power on January 15th, 1966, he mentioned that the military took over because the first republic politicians were collecting ten percent bribes. But nonetheless, it presupposes that at least they were using 90 percent of the resources to do the work. It would be great to pose the question: ‘What is happening now’?, he asked.
He said today public officials steal 90 percent of funds allocated to their agencies while allowing 10 percent for the purpose for which the funds were earmarked.
Others, he said, out rightly loot the treasury, stealing directly from source as revenues accrue to their governments or agencies.
Mr. Ribadu recalled the statement credited to the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos, that the revenue received by Nigeria in 2012 from the sale of crude oil was more than the yearly aid the entire sub Saharan Africa received.
“Where is the money, where is the improvement?” he asked
The former EFCC chairman decried the under-development of the North and erosion of the legacies of the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello.
According to him, the last annual budget by the late Sardauna for the whole north was just 44 million pounds, with Northern Nigeria, which Ahmadu Bello led at independence, now 19 states, the federal capital territory, Abuja and 414 local government areas.
These 19 states and over 400 local government areas, he said, got a total of N8.3 trillion from the federation account between 1999 and 2010.
He said every local government areas has budgets per annum that is more than the budget of the entire old northern region during the Sardauna era.
“My take is that they were not corrupt and that was the reason they achieved so much with so little. What is really happening now with all these huge sums we have?
“These local government areas do not even repair township drainages. They do not maintain existing markets and motor parks amongst many other things that would take a while to mention. Nobody knows what they generate as revenue internally, because all the sums quoted in the reports and newspapers are just what they get from the federation account monthly. They hardly meet in council except when there are subventions to be shared.
To make matters worse, he said, many legislators, especially from the northern states, hardly attend sittings to defend the interests of their constituents, adding ” are mostly busy traveling to various parts of the world with their new found wealth”.